How Your Mood Affects Your Baby

Easy tips on staying upbeat, even when you're feeling new-baby stress.

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Let's be real--the constant care your baby demands can be taxing at times. But do try to stay upbeat through it all. "Research overwhelmingly shows that parents' moods affect infant behavior," says Lorenzo Azzi, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist at Southwest Human Development, a nonprofit mental health and education facility in Phoenix. To help keep your baby happy--and perhaps feel better yourself--follow these tips when stress mounts:

Breathe Take at least three deep, calming breaths.

Smile The physical act of smiling releases serotonin, a brain chemical that actually makes you feel better, studies show.

Don't yell Loud, jarring noises, like a voice raised in anger, can be distressing to infants, who perceive you're mad at them.

Stretch Infants sense body tension. Relax your muscles with some easy stretches, such as upper-body twists and neck rolls.

For six simple stress-busting moves, visit fitpregnancy.com/stretch.

Assess If you're angry, sad or stressed for more than two weeks, you may be at risk for depression. Ask your doctor for a referral to a therapist or find one through the American Psychological Association at locator.apahelpcenter.org.

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